Best of 2020 Q&A: Debra Thompson

Debra Thompson appears on our Best of 2020 list for the piece “My Black ancestors fled America for freedom. I left Canada to find a home. Now both countries must fight for a better world.” You can read it at The Globe and Mail.

GCL invited writers on the list to answer a questionnaire to give us further insight into their work. The following are Debra’s answers:

How did you start working on this story?

I was asked to do a public lecture as a fundraiser for the Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Eugene, Oregon. The “Ideas on Tap” series is hosted at a local brewery and is designed to bring academic research to a broader audience.

I wasn’t ready to present my latest research, but I knew I was leaving my position at the University of Oregon and had a lot of complicated feelings about leaving the United States to return to Canada. So, I decided to talk about it to an audience of strangers. Much to my surprise, the brewery was completely packed. The audience was so interested and engaged and supportive that I thought maybe the piece could turn into something publishable.

How long did it take to write this piece?

Probably about a month to write the presentation and I then spent some time over the next several months tweaking it.

What was the most challenging part of writing it?

I am a political scientist – by training, anyway – and so I don’t write about myself. Ever. Writing from or about personal experiences is not an approach that is viewed positively in my discipline. Writing for a general audience is also a very different style than what I’m used to.

In many academic settings, opaque writing is a kind of moral credentialing; complexity is frequently considered a proxy for intellectual worth. But you can’t reach a broad audience that way. At the same time, I write about race and racism and I will never simplify the terms of the debate. There is too much at stake. So, striking a balance between complexity and accessibility was certainly a challenge.

Do you have a particular writing ritual you follow?

I have two children under five, so I write when I can, as fast as I can, anywhere I can. Sometimes I try to get up early to write, but somehow, they know. And they wake up. And then we’re all just up early.

What did you find different about writing during a global pandemic?

The schools and daycares in Oregon shut down in mid-March. They did not reopen. Any semblance of work-life balance I pretended to have pre-pandemic was eviscerated in an instant. It is impossible to work full-time and take care of children full-time.

Any time that I found to write had to be negotiated with my partner, who had his own full-time job and obligations, or was stolen while my children napped or were momentarily distracted. The pandemic has most tragically stolen lives from us, but it has also stolen time, and my sense is that we – all of us, but most especially women, racialized minorities, and low-income populations – will feel the psychological, emotional, and professional consequences for decades.

What was the most surprising thing you learned about your subject (or in the case of a personal essay, yourself) during the process?

Huh. I guess it was surprising that anyone would be interested in hearing about my very personal and peculiar take on my experiences of racism in Canada and the United States. This is also my research, and so I think and write and live and breathe it all day, every day. So, the surprise was both wonder at the incredible reception to my story, and shock that so many people had never thought about the realities of racism in these countries.

What sort of reaction has your piece received from readers?

It’s hard to tell, actually. My sense is that the piece struck a chord with many people. I’ve presented different versions of this piece in various forums, and the audiences are always large and captivated. But it’s also an essay about race and racism in societies that are still defined, overtly and surreptitiously, by white supremacy. I get a lot of hate mail.

For any fellow non-fiction writers reading this, do you have a favourite writing tip to share?

If you get stuck on a sentence or idea, write around it and keep going. My drafts frequently have the phrase “[something something]”.

What writing projects are you working on currently?

I’m turning the essay into a book! More details on that should be announced soonish. And, of course, I have my day job as a political scientist at McGill University. In 2021 I’ll be finishing up a project on racial inequality in Canada with Dr. Keith Banting of Queen’s University, writing an article on Black Lives Matter and Black Political Thought for a special issue of the journal South Atlantic Quarterly and I think I have committed to write three book chapters for edited volumes. It’s going to be a busy year, but what a charmed life I have, to write for a living. 

Find Debra on Twitter: @debthompsonphd

This Q&A may have been edited for clarity and length.

Best of 2020 Q&A: Julian Brave NoiseCat

Julian Brave NoiseCat appears on our Best of 2020 list for the piece “Interiority Complex.” You can read it at the National Observer.

GCL invited writers on the list to answer a questionnaire to give us further insight into their work. The following are Julian’s answers:

How did you start working on this story?

My father had an art show opening in Whistler—his father’s territory. Originally I was going to try to get some local journalists to cover it, but then one of my friends and editors, Emilee Gilpin, who was at the National Observer at the time suggested that I write the story.

How long did it take to write this piece?

It took a few interviews and a couple of days. Not long at all.

What was the most challenging part of writing it?

I like to see and interact with the people and subjects I write about in person. During the pandemic that obviously wasn’t possible, which was a bummer because I was really excited to see my dad’s first show in his fatherland.

Do you have a particular writing ritual you follow?

As I’ve learned more about writing, I’ve gotten pretty big on process. I start by typing up all my interviews and then I figure out an outline. To get through writer’s block and the fear-of-blank-page phenomenon, I trick myself into thinking about the task as turning notes into prose.

What did you find different about writing during a global pandemic?

I don’t like just reporting over the phone and wish I could have seen my dad and his art in person. I do think you get more of the details, and therefore the literature, that way.

What was the most surprising thing you learned about your subject (or in the case of a personal essay, yourself) during the process?

The piece is about my father’s complicated relationship with his father as well as my complicated relationship with my father. The title, “Interiority Complex” refers to one of the core tensions in the piece, which isn’t just about our inherited inferiority complexes as Indians, but also about how my dad has felt “less-than” in the art world because he’s not from a coastal nation and is sometimes looked down upon in the art world for that reason.

What sort of reaction has your piece received from readers?

My dad loved it and cried. That’s good enough for me.

For any fellow non-fiction writers reading this, do you have a favourite writing tip to share?

Writing takes time and practice. If you put in the work and the hours, over pieces and years you will see your writing improve by leaps and bounds. I can hardly bring myself to read the stuff I was writing just a couple years ago.

What writing projects are you working on currently?

Lots of things! I’ve always dreamt of writing books and am hopeful that I might get to do that soon.

Find Julian on Twitter: @jnoisecat

This Q&A may have been edited for clarity and length.

Best of 2020 Q&A: Jana G. Pruden

Jana G. Pruden appears on our Best of 2020 list for the piece “He said, they said: inside the trial of Matthew McKnight.” You can read it at The Globe and Mail.

GCL invited writers on the list to answer a questionnaire to give us further insight into their work. The following are Jana’s answers:

How did you start working on this story?

I had been keeping an eye on this case, and thought it might make an interesting longform story. I pitched it to my editor shortly before the trial began, in late September 2019.

How long did it take to write this piece?

The bulk of the time on this piece was spent in court. The trial was originally slated for 10 weeks, but ultimately went longer (63 days in total). I was in court every day, and I didn’t start writing the story until the trial was over. It took me 12 days to go through my material and get a draft down, and a lot of time after that to get it to its final version.

What was the most challenging part of writing it?

There were a number of very challenging aspects to this piece, especially the sheer amount of information. By the trial’s end, I had nearly 4,000 pages of notes from court and many hours of outside interviews. With 13 separate allegations being heard in a single trial, the complexity of the case itself was also a challenge. I really wanted to give people a deeper look into the court’s handling of the case, but I also knew looking at the details of each charge and how they were defended would be impossible.

Do you have a particular writing ritual you follow?

Coming up in daily news with tight deadlines, I’m not too picky about my rituals. That’s why I think breaking news is such good training for all other kinds of writing. If you can file a full story from your car in a snowstorm or crouched in a hallway somewhere, every other creative comfort is gravy. When a story has to be written, I just have to get it done.

That said, coffee definitely helps.

What did you find different about writing during a global pandemic?

The pandemic didn’t have a huge impact on this particular story, but in a general sense the pandemic has introduced some interesting challenges. These include making it harder to report and meet people in person, which can be such an important part of feature writing.

What was the most surprising thing you learned about your subject (or in the case of a personal essay, yourself) during the process?

There were a lot of twists and turns, but not necessarily any big surprises in this piece.

What sort of reaction has your piece received from readers?

I was really moved by the reaction to the piece. Most importantly, I got a lot of very meaningful messages from people who felt their personal experiences were represented, whether or not they had any relation to this particular case. I was glad it connected with people in that way.

For any fellow non-fiction writers reading this, do you have a favourite writing tip to share?

Don’t compare your first draft with other people’s finished pieces.

What writing projects are you working on currently?

I don’t like to share projects in progress because I’m always afraid of getting scooped! But I have a couple of things in the works that I’m really excited about, so stay tuned.

Find Jana on Twitter: @jana_pruden

This Q&A may have been edited for clarity and length.

Best of 2020 Q&A: Jody Porter

Jody Porter appears on our Best of 2020 list for the piece “Pathfinding.” You can read it at Maisonneuve Magazine.

GCL invited writers on the list to answer a questionnaire to give us further insight into their work. The following are Jody’s answers:

How did you start working on this story?

I’d been thinking about my experience covering Chanie Wenjack’s story and Gord Downie’s Secret Path for several years, trying to figure out if it was the peak of my career as a journalist, or the moment when I most obviously failed to do my job – to speak truth to power, even when that power was a beloved, cultural icon, with a terminal disease.

But after more than two decades of reporting mainly on Indigenous issues, I was also wary of taking up more public space as a non-Indigenous person to work through my own feelings. Then I met journalist and scholar Minelle Mahtani at a dinner party where I told a version of my story, and she encouraged me to write it in hopes of providing insight for journalism students and others. That was the permission I needed to move forward. I am so grateful for it.

How long did it take to write this piece?

About five months from the beginning to submitting it for publishing.

What was the most challenging part of writing it?

The honesty it required. It is the most true thing I have ever written. My friend and Anishinaabe Kwe journalist Jolene Banning read an early draft and pushed me to be more honest about my sense of being a white saviour and I cried my way through a rewrite of that section.

Another friend and fellow writer, Susan Goldberg, read what I thought was my final draft and suggested that the piece would be stronger if I included a reference to my own sexual assault. It was not advice I wanted to hear. I thought it was too big of a risk to make the piece so much about me.

I resisted the change and set the piece aside for about a month, figuring that I had taken it as far as I could. Then, slowly, the wisdom in Susan’s advice sunk in. I started to work on it again, including my own victimhood, surprising myself as the meta-narrative – the inherent power of telling one’s own story – emerged.

Do you have a particular writing ritual?

For most of my writing life as a reporter, I have had a daily deadline as the only motivation I needed. But this piece was much different. It haunted me for a while as I struggled to find a way in. Then I set myself a schedule of writing for an hour a day – whatever I got down on the page – and then leaving it until the next day. That carried me through to a first draft.

What did you find different about writing during a global pandemic?

More than the pandemic, the killing of George Floyd, the BLM resurgence that followed and growing awareness of racial injustices across North America in 2020 made me feel a particular responsibility to write with care; to honour the courageous work of Pacinthe Mattar, Denise Balkissoon, Christine Genier and many others who are exposing the limits of the way journalism is practiced in Canada and lighting a way forward.

What was the most surprising thing you learned about your subject, during the process?

That there was a great relief, when it was finally done and published, after the deep pain of finding the right words and my path through them.

What sort of reaction has your piece received from readers?

I’ve been overwhelmed with positive responses from people I’ve known or worked with in the past, as well as from complete strangers, and, delightfully, the former head of my college journalism program.

I’m also humbled by the fact the piece has been added to the reading lists for some university courses, was referred to and footnoted in Denise Balkissoon’s Atkinson lecture on objectivity and garnered me an interview with Jesse Brown on the Canadaland podcast.

For any fellow non-fiction writers reading this, do you have a favorite writing tip to share

Write to find your own answers. Rely on friends/fellow writers to help you keep you honest, then blaze your own trail to the truth.

What writing projects are you working on currently?

I’ve had to stop writing for a bit as I resume active cancer treatments, which limit energy and play tricks on the mind. But I expect as my ultimate deadline approaches, I may find I have a few more things to contemplate, and share, in writing.

Find Jody on Twitter: @cbcreporter

This Q&A may have been edited for clarity and length.

Best of 2020 Q&A: Christopher Pollon

Christopher Pollon appears on our Best of 2020 list for the piece “You Never Forget The Smell.” You can read it at Hakai Magazine.

GCL invited writers on the list to answer a questionnaire to give us further insight into their work. The following are Christopher’s answers:

How did you start working on this story?

A friend of mine – a marine biologist – wrote to me with a tip. One of his friends was on a whale-watching trip just off the northern tip of Vancouver island, and one of the passengers was an elderly man who had worked as a commercial whaler at the last whaling stations in North America.

Apparently the man, who was with his grandson, was quite open about his experiences as a whaler.  My friend had his name, so I looked him up, cold-called him and started what became many discussions about his experiences on the coast. Harry was my lead character who I started to build the story around.

How long did it take to write this piece?

Hakai Magazine accepted my pitch around June 2019. That same month I travelled from Vancouver with a photographer (Grant Callegari) to see Harry Hole and Coal Harbour. I spent about a month researching and writing the story, and submitted a draft before the end of summer. The story was slow through edits – Hakai Magazine usually has a long lead time for long features. Seven months later it was published.

What was the most challenging part of writing it?

I tend to do saturation reporting for stories like this, which means I completely immerse myself in the subject if I have the time. I love doing that regarding a subject I am fascinated about, but the challenge with this deep research is that you have to find a way to organize all the information.

In this case, the volume of detail was daunting. Figuring out what to leave on the cutting room floor is always an issue, and was for this story. What helped was having an amazing character like Harry.  He drove the narrative and was someone I always returned to regardless of what tangent I would get on.

Do you have a particular writing ritual you follow?

Depending on my deadline, I force myself to stop researching after a certain point and review everything I have gathered. At this point I write a map of how the story will unfold, making sure that my roadmap is consistent with the story I have pitched. From the beginning, I think a lot about openings and endings.

I always start by writing and rewriting an opening I like – I can’t usually continue writing the article until I have a good idea of how it will open. And I think very early on about how the story will end. My editor, Adrienne Mason, doesn’t like stories that end with quotes. I think I tried to end this story with a Harry Hole quote initially, but Adrienne pushed me to find some kind of summation sentence that resonated. These kinds of sentences are the hardest to write, I find. 

As far as atmosphere, I like classic jazz (without vocals to distract)–in this case Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery – are always on high rotation.

What did you find different about writing during a global pandemic?

I didn’t write this during the pandemic, which I’m grateful for. This story (with the required travel to the northern tip of Vancouver island) couldn’t have been written in the pandemic. 

What was the most surprising thing you learned about your subject (or in the case of a personal essay, yourself) during the process?

The most surprising thing I learned was that in the late 1950s, the Walt Disney company hired the whalers at Coal Harbour to kill an orca which was gutted, packed with formaldehyde and shipped to the United States on the deck of a ship.

I’ve become kind of obsessed with this stuffed whale. It’s a story I am pursuing. A few weeks back, I was called out of the blue by the son of one of the biologists who worked at the station. He remembered the killer whale specifically, and we’re doing some detective work to try to figure out where it went and more interestingly, where it might be now.

What sort of reaction has your piece received from readers?

I have been contacted by a handful of people, either readers who remembered that era, or fellow writers who appreciated the depth of detail in the reporting. One of my favorite non-fiction authors messaged me on Twitter (we had never communicated before) and said he liked the piece, which was the most rewarding part of this whole thing. One of the readers, the son of a biologist who worked at the station, is helping me track down Walt’s stuffed whale.

For any fellow non-fiction writers reading this, do you have a favorite writing tip to share?

If you’re a freelancer, rejection of your ideas by editors is a reality of the job. What’s harder, is dealing with indifference. No matter how good your ideas are, there will be times when they will be met with indifference (i.e., not even a response) by editors, publishers, etc. If you are going to seriously do this work, you have to find ways to stay positive in the face of that.

What writing projects are you working on currently?

In December I found a publisher for my next book, which will be about mining, climate change, and the third world. In the meantime, I am finishing up a series of articles for The Tyee on British Columbia’s melting mountain glaciers.  And of course, I continue to chase the ghost of a stuffed killer whale.

Find Christopher on Twitter: @c_pollon

This Q&A may have been edited for clarity and length.

A Changed World

“And it happened: the exotic moment—without rush, without engines—when we were, in fact, all together in a sudden strangeness. How lovely. How amazing that the world could be brought to a halt just as we raced to the precipice of disaster. We were given the opportunity to cease the frenzy of getting and spending, consuming and wasting, polluting and destroying.”

Jackie Flanagan – Alberta Views – December 2020

Best of 2020 Q&A: Wency Leung

Wency Leung appears on our Best of 2020 list for the piece “I donated my kidney to help a stranger. But what about the person I couldn’t help?” You can read it at The Globe and Mail.

GCL invited writers on the list to answer a questionnaire to give us further insight into their work. The following are Wency’s answers:

1. How did you start working on this story?

I’d written previous news articles about the demand for donated organs, so I was interested in writing a deeper piece about the need to promote living organ transplants in Canada long before I decided to become a kidney donor.

The trouble is once I became a donor, I had to shelve the idea of reporting about the issue since my own experience put me at a conflict of interest. Still, it nagged at me: there are plenty of good reasons to encourage living organ transplants in Canada – and I suspect plenty of willing donors – yet the numbers of these transplants have remained flat.

Eventually, I pitched the idea to editors in our opinion section, where I figured my conflict of interest wouldn’t pose such a problem. Luckily for me, they bit.

2. How long did it take to write this piece?

I hadn’t planned on writing such a personal piece, nor had I intended to delve into the story about Rith, my friend and colleague who died of kidney failure in Cambodia. Instead, I initially envisioned my experience as kind of a side note to a piece on the bigger issues of giving and of living organ transplants in general. But when I was discussing my story idea one day with my mentor and editor Carol Toller, she zoomed in on this detail about how my friend had died and questioned me about what that meant in terms of my motivation to become a donor. To be honest, I hadn’t given a lot thought about how the two were related, and after she listened to my bumbling answers, she said in her quiet, thoughtful way, “It sounds as though you wanted to give your kidney to your friend, but you couldn’t. So you gave it to the universe.”

For the first time since Rith died, I started crying right there in that conference room when she said that. The tears just started streaming.

My conversation with Carol put me on a very different path, and once I realized this was actually the story I meant to write, it didn’t take long to write a first draft. I think I sent in a draft about two or three weeks later, which wove between my story and Rith’s. I thought it was going to be far too long, but to my happy surprise, this was the first time my editors actually wanted me to add to my draft, rather than trim it.

3. What was the most challenging part of writing it?

I tend to be a very private person and I don’t often write personal essays, so writing about my inner thoughts and feelings made me feel very exposed. It was really uncomfortable and scary! But a friend and former editor gave me some great advice for keeping myself honest: “Write this thing as though you’re going to burn it in the fireplace when it’s done.”

4. Do you have a particular writing ritual you follow?

I don’t have a ritual – especially now, when I’m having to work in whatever reasonably quiet and comfortable corner of the house I can find. But I do have the bad habit of procrastinating. It’s always easier to write on deadline.

5. What did you find different about writing during a global pandemic?

I think the questions I raised in my piece – what kind of person do I want to be, how can we be more giving, and what happens when we can’t give enough? – are things we’re all thinking about more than usual during this pandemic.

If there’s anything different about writing right now, it’s perhaps that we’re looking inward more, thinking more about our own mortality, our purpose in life, and what we can do to create a world in which we want to live. I think this kind of self-reflection permeates into the stories we choose to write or the stories to which we devote more energy.

6. What was the most surprising thing you learned about your subject (or in the case of a personal essay, yourself) during the process?

I’ve been a news reporter now for half my life, yet  I’ve always been unsure about using my “voice” in my writing. Writing this piece was my baby step toward finding my voice. I learned that it exists, and that it’s worth something.

7. What sort of reaction has your piece received from readers?

I don’t think I’ve ever received more messages about anything I’ve ever written, and those who’ve reached out to me have been incredibly lovely. Some have informed me they’ve signed their organ donor cards after reading my piece, and a few have even expressed interest in becoming living donors themselves. I couldn’t have hoped for a better response.

8. For any fellow non-fiction writers reading this, do you have a favourite writing tip to share?

I’d say reach out to other writers whose work you love, and ask for their advice and input. At worst, they might brush you off. But in my experience, most are really happy to talk about their craft and share what they know. Writing can be lonely, but even a few encouraging words from someone you admire can carry you a long way.

9. What writing projects are you working on currently?

I’m interested in further exploring this question of “what happens when we reach the limits of what we can give?” The consequences of failing to take care of others, particularly our elders in long-term care, is something that will hurt us long after this pandemic is over. We’ll be asking ourselves, “what more could we have done?” and I feel certain the answers will haunt us. So I’m examining these themes through the story of one particular individual whose efforts to take care of his mother, who had dementia, were not enough. As a result, she died a terrible, undignified death, and he spent time in prison – a punishment that arguably pales in comparison to the guilt and grief that will stay with him the rest of his life.

I don’t know yet how this project will turn out. I’m only slowly chipping away at it. But I have a gut feeling this story is one worth telling, and I think there’s something about it that may shed light on what we’re all going to have to face when we come out of this pandemic.

Find Wency on Twitter: @wencyleung

This Q&A may have been edited for clarity and length.

Best of 2020 Q&A: Jen Gerson

Jen Gerson appears on our Best of 2020 list for the piece “The destructive conspiracy theory that Victoria unleashed upon the world.” You can read it at Capital Daily.

GCL invited writers on the list to answer a questionnaire to give us further insight into their work. The following are Jen’s answers:

1. How did you start working on this story?

I’ve followed the Satanic Panic for many years, but this story came about thanks to a conversation I had with the former editor of the Capital Daily, Tristin Hopper. He and I are both weirdos; his interest is more towards history. He noticed that much of the Satanic Panic began with a book that was actually based in Victoria B.C., where the Capital Daily operates. He thought it would be a good subject for a feature and I was the obvious fellow traveller to go to to write it. 

2. How long did it take to write this piece?

Research and writing took about six months. 

3. What was the most challenging part of writing it?

Keeping it short. Every time I went in for an edit, the story grew by about 500 words. Originally, I was commissioned to write a 1,500 word piece. I delivered a 9,000 word draft, which was grossly unprofessional. I suppose I couldn’t help it. I found the subject matter too fascinating. 

4. Do you have a particular writing ritual you follow?

I generally try to stay disciplined by writing every day. I take care of emails, editing, and administrative work in the morning, draft outlines in the afternoon and I usually get to writing once the kids are in bed.

5. What did you find different about writing during a global pandemic?

I really wanted more first-person interviews for the piece. When I realized that it would not be possible to obtain them, I had to rely more on secondary sources than I would have liked.

6. What was the most surprising thing you learned about your subject (or in the case of a personal essay, yourself) during the process?

The recursive nature of this particular conspiracy theory. A deeper historical dive turned up the fact that we’ve been re-hashing some form of the QAnon narrative about Satanists abducting children for the purposes of ritual abuse and sacrifice since the 17th century.

7. What sort of reaction has your piece received from readers?

Most readers seemed to enjoy the piece, but I also received a disturbing amount of feedback from people genuinely convinced in the reality of the conspiracy theory; presumably they assume I’m a part of the conspiracy now. 

8. For any fellow non-fiction writers reading this, do you have a favourite writing tip to share?

Discipline is the only answer. You have to write a million words. Then write another million. 

9. What writing projects are you working on currently?

In addition to running The Line, I’m currently hoping to turn this piece into my first book.

Find Jen on Twitter: @jengerson

This Q&A may have been edited for clarity and length.

Best of 2020

This year GCL has shared hundreds of pieces from across the country, from deep-dive investigations and personal essays, to profiles and reported features. It’s a daunting (but exciting) task to sift through them to pick out favourite pieces from the past year.

The following list, unveiled Friday, Dec. 18 on our Twitter account is presented in alphabetical order of the author’s last name. It comprises 10 pieces from 2020 that are especially notable for their quality and craft.

Not addressed in this list is longform coverage we’ve shared about the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be covered in its own “Best of” list in early 2021. Otherwise, I think this list presents an interesting time capsule of Canadian stories from this year and some especially strong examples of memoir and personal journalism which deeply resonated with readers.

Happy reading. (And wear a mask!)

Rob Csernyik

December 19, 2020

GREAT CANADIAN LONGFORM’S BEST OF 2020

The Boy Called Vimy

Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen

The Search for Mackie Basil

Annie Hylton, The Walrus

The destructive conspiracy theory that Victoria unleashed upon the world

Jen Gerson, Capital Daily

I donated my kidney to help a stranger. But what about the person I couldn’t help?

Wency Leung, The Globe and Mail

Black Communities Have Known about Mutual Aid All Along

Vicky Mochama, The Walrus

Interiority complex

Julian Brave NoiseCat, National Observer

You Never Forget the Smell

Christopher Pollon, Hakai Magazine

Pathfinding

Jody Porter, Maisonneuve

He said, they said: inside the trial of Matthew McKnight

Jana G. Pruden, The Globe and Mail

My Black ancestors fled America for freedom. I left Canada to find a home. Now both countries must fight for a better world

Debra Thompson, The Globe and Mail

New traditions

“Esguerra’s ‘new tradition’ concept offers a useful framework for us to reimagine our efforts. ‘To create something new, you have to know where you came from: your past, your roots, and the struggle of your ancestors,’ explains Esguerra. ‘You have to study in order to contribute new elements and fuse it with other styles.’ Taking Esguerra’s lead, we might ask: how can we combine the best of our traditions with new approaches to labour organizing that respond to the changing realities of work?”

Ryan Hayes – Briarpatch – October 2020